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More maps of growing income inequality, stagnation

On Friday, in my diary "Economic apartheid... with MAPS!", I used the NYT census/google map feature to take a look at some census tracts in Washington, DC around the seat of government. A lot of the surrounds there showed remarkably strong economic growth this past decade, most notably Census Tract 58, with an estimated 1,429 households, which had a median household income of $107,208, for a 105% increase since 2000.

Needless to say, most of the rest of America has not been doing nearly so well.  In fact, it's like we're in a whole different country.  I just wanted to start off the week by reminding folks of that a little more specifically.


Chicago has long been known as America's "Second City", the defining city of the industrial heartland.  So how has Chicago been doing this past decade?  Not well, it turns out, and it's nearby suburbs even worse:

Chicago's 9% drop in income is just inside single-digit territory, same as it's northern suburban county. But the two counties to the west are well over the mark at 13% and 11% down from the end of the Clinton Era.  Things are not looking well in the heartland.  Maybe someone should tell the White House?  Or at least Rahm Emmanuel?


Well, the industrial heartland has been hurting for decades now.  We don't really do anything about it.  That would be too much "activist government". Like Europe.  Or even like America when we built the Interstate system and went to the moon and stuff like that.  The Sunbelt is where it's at nowadays, everyone knows that. And nothing says "Sunbelt" like Dallas, right?  Even had a TV show named after it.  So how's Dallas been doing this past decade?  Oh my:

Dallas County's 16% drop in income almost makes Cook County's 9% drop look like paradise!  And Plano County's 12% drop is not exactly cheery, either.  At least the other two counties in the picture here are only single-digit losers, and Fort Worth's Tarrant County is a mighty big place, too, so its 8% decline would almost pass for cheery news hereabouts.  That's only half of Dallas's rate of decline, after all.

After Dallas, just about anything is bound to look good by comparison, and Bellingham/Seattle, a high-tech powerhouse for three decades now would be just the place to go looking, don't you think?  Check it out on the flip:


Well, the good news here is no double-digit losses!  Sure this is supposed to be a growth center, but considering how bad things look elsewhere, we're just going to have to regard this as the sweet smell of success, now aren't we?  Sure we are:

Gosh!  Two out of four counties only lost 2 or 3% of income!  That's terrific!  High tech really can still do wonders.  And speaking of wonders, I wonder how high tech's mother lode is doing, now don't you?

San Francisco/Silicon Valley

San Francisco, the cultural pinnacle, is doing pretty good: It only lost 2% of income.  But that's about where the good news ends:

Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, particularly its more recent development with firms like e-Bay, is down by double-digits: 11%.  And San Mateo County, where Silicon Valley's older roots lie, though doing much better at 7% down, is still not much better than Chicago--the same as Santa Cruz County, long a seaside bedroom community haven for the Silicon Valley elite.

I'm not saying there's no place in America outside of DC where people as a whole are doing well.  But those places are the exception, not the rule.  And places you'd expect to be doing better than most provide a chilling reminder of just how downbeat "better than most" can be these days.

I'd encourage you all to take a look at your surroundings through this lens.  How's your local area doing?  Los Angeles County actually gained 1% in income over the decade, for example. But that includes a patchwork of gains and losses that shows not very much in the way of any consistency.  And nearby Orange County lost 3% overall.  With all the defense and intelligence money pouring in there, that's actually pretty bad.

What's your local story?  You may be surprised. Or maybe not.  One thing's for certain: Versailles is damn sure not paying attention.  They see rich people.  It's all they see.

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